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South Dakota at a glance

Gray wolves once existed throughout South Dakota but removal began shortly after European settlement. Currently no established wolf populations live in this state. However, due to the close proximity of viable wolf populations in Minnesota, Montana and Canada, wolves may return to South Dakota in the future.

According to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, wolves could return to portions of their former range in the Dakotas, including South Dakota. “However, the agricultural dominated landscape (cropland, hayland and pasture) and relatively high densities of roads would facilitate negative encounters between wolves and humans, which could preclude their re-establishment,” they write.

The department continues: “The greatest hindrance to recolonization of wolves in North Dakota is their vulnerability to killing by humans. For example, the major documented threat to wolves in the Dakotas was killing by humans due to allegedly mistaken identity as coyotes. Licht and Fritts (1990) noted that relatively high road densities in eastern North Dakota would increase the likelihood of wolf-vehicle collisions. Furthermore, human tolerance for wolves likely would be low because livestock production is a major industry in North Dakota.”

Article: Wolf found near Pine Ridge migrated from Yellowstone, May 2012

Article: Federal officials investigate possible gray wolf shooting

Article: Gray wolf spotting lurking in the Black Hills

South Dakota Game Fish and Parks website on gray wolves


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